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Distinction, intentions, and the consumption of fiction: negotiating cultural legitimacy in a gay reading group

Allington, Daniel (2011). Distinction, intentions, and the consumption of fiction: negotiating cultural legitimacy in a gay reading group. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 14(2) pp. 129–145.

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The relationship between the ‘legitimate’ (or highbrow) and the ‘popular’ (or lowbrow) in cultural consumption has been extensively researched and debated in relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘distinction’ and ‘cultural capital’ and Richard Peterson’s concept of ‘omnivorousness’. This paper contributes to that sociological tradition by carrying out qualitative discourse analysis of a gay reading group’s verbal responses to Joe Keenan’s comic novel, My Lucky Star (2006) – a strategy that is acknowledged to be controversial, given the discourse analytic critique of sociology. It is found that members of the reading group studied here exhibit aspects of distinction and omnivorous openness in their arguments over the novel’s merits (or lack thereof), and that perceptions of authorial intention – in particular, Keenan’s non-intention to write a ‘serious’ book – are deeply implicated in this evaluative discourse. Evidence is found not only for a high degree of alignment between the group’s discourse on the novel and written discourse on the same novel in the mass media, but also for the importance of a specifically gay variety of ‘subcultural capital’, to which some group members appeal in order to contest other members’ dismissal of the book as insufficiently ‘serious’ to be worthy of discussion.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 The Author
ISSN: 1460-3551
Keywords: book clubs, cultural capital, discourse analysis, distinction, gay readers, gay writing, Joe Keenan, omnivores, reading groups, reception
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 28621
Depositing User: Daniel Allington
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2011 08:43
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 13:29
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